Deputy President William Ruto’s pilot Captain Mario Magonga died in a helicopter accident that occurred on Sunday. The crash also killed four Americans, Kyle John Forte, Stapper Brandon Howe, Burke Anders Asher and Baker David Mar,
Who were some of the men?
Burke was an entrepreneur who ran two companies based in San Diego – The Bricks Agency, which did creative and branding work for firms, and Campaign Services Group, a political campaign firm.
During his time with Campaign Services Group, Asher worked with Tim Donnelly, a former Republican representative, and Brian Jones, who still represents a large part of San Diego county. In 2012 he was fined $400 for failing to file statements of economic interests, online records show. Both of his companies now appear to be defunct.
Stapper was also an entrepreneur but worked in the design sector, starting a printing company after moving to San Diego from Michigan as a young man.
He founded two other design companies before starting up his own private equity firm called Crown Grown to acquire and improve businesses.
Kyle Forti was a married father-of-one who was originally from Claremont, California, but moved to Colorado where he co-founded a political consulting firm called D/CO.
Officers said the helicopter carrying the men came down near Lake Turkana, in northern Kenya, around 8pm on Sunday, killing all five people on board.
Police said that two helicopters had landed at Labolo camp on the edge of the lake earlier in the day, but ‘only one managed to clear the area safely’.
Burke ran two companies – a branding agency and a political consulting firm. He often traveled, and his social media shows him in exotic locations.
The helicopters had attempted to make a risky nighttime visit to Central Island, in the middle of the lake, before the crash, a source told The Nation.
The helicopters tried and failed to land on the hilly island in the dark, forcing the pilots turned back to Labolo when one of them fell out of the sky.
Magonga’s brother, politician Richard Onyonka, said the helicopter disappeared from radar around 8pm before a search operation was launched.
The wreckage was discovered at 2am on Monday.
Investigators have managed to recover the wreckage of the helicopter and the bodies of its passengers, but say the exact cause of the crash is still unclear. The crash comes less than a month after three Americans were among five who died in a plane crash in the west of the country.
Ruto’s pilot is described on his Facebook page as a man of exceptional experience and skill, having been trained in the Kenya Defense Forces.
He worked for tour company Tropic Air Kenya until 2015 when he left to join KIDL Helicopters, based in the capital Nairobi.
Speaking to NTV, his cousin described him as ‘one of the best helicopter pilots that money could buy’ and said he was cleared to fly high-profile guests, such as Mr. Ruto.